Who Are The Hisbah Corps?

December 10, 2020

Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves.

National Assembly blocking electronic transmission of election results

On Tuesday, December 8th 2020, Nigeria became the first democratic country to be included in the United State’s official list of Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) for 2020 — a list that curates the countries that do not allow religious freedom and expression.

In the CPC list for 2020, Nigeria, alongsides Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK), Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan were alleged to have been engaging in “systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations”.

Now, while this recent CPC list by the US State Department may or may not be a true picture of religious activities in Nigeria, it is important to know about some of the prominent religious institutions in Nigeria — including the hisbah corps.

First created in Kano State, in 2003, the Hisbah Corps are now present in other Nigerian states, with many Nigerians curious about their true functions.

The Kano State Hisbah Corps

Hisbah is an Islamic doctrine which means “accountability”. Under Shari’ah law, Hisbah is also a collective duty which means: “to enjoin good and forbid wrong”.

In Nigeria, the Kano State Hisbah Board Law No. 4 of 2003 and Kano State Hisbah (Amendment) Law No. 6 of 2005 established the first hisbah board in Kano State, Nigeria. 

The general function of the Kano State Hisbah Corps, as established by the hisbah board, is to be a local and vigilante police force which will enforce obedience to Shari’ah.

The Kano State Hisbah Corps is regulated by the hisbah board, which is composed of government officials, secular police officers, and religious leaders. The board is also made up of local units supervised by committees composed of officials and citizens in the communities in which they operate.

The Kano State Hisbah Board started operation on the 7th November, 2003, and is composed of:

  • A representative of the state shari’ah commission;
  • A representative of state zakkah and hubusi commission;
  • A representative of the state emirate council;
  • A representative of the state civil defense corps;
  • A representative of the ministry of justice;
  • The state hisbah commander;
  • A representative of the police;
  • A representative of the office of the secretary to the state government; and
  • Four other members who are part-time members.

What Do The Hisbah Corps Do?

In Attorney General of Kano State v. Attorney General of the Federation (2006), a very important court case over whether the Kano State government had the power to create the hisbah board and the hisbah corps, Justice Umaru Atu Kalgo, a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria (as at the time), stated that some of the most important duties of the Hisbah Corps include:

(i)  rendering necessary assistance to the police and other security agencies especially in the areas of prevention, detention and reporting of offences;

(ii) Handling non-fire-arms for self defence like batons, and other non-lethal civil defence instruments; 

(iii)  Assisting in traffic control; and

(xiii) Assisting in any other situation that will require the involvement of hisbah, be it preventive or detective.

However, other duties of the Hisbah Corps include resolving disputes, condemning violators of Shari’ah, maintaining order at religious celebrations, and assisting with disaster response operations.

The Hisbah Corps do not have authority to execute arrests and officers are armed only with weapons for self-defense, such as batons. Hisbah officers who observe violations of Shari’ah are also expected to simply alert the Nigeria Police Force. 

Recent Controversies Trailing The Hisbah Corps

In November 2013, the Kano State Hisbah Corps, also known as the Shari’ah police, confiscated and destroyed over 240,000 bottles of beer and alcoholic drinks, to the consternation of many alcohol retailers and distributors in the state.

In November 2020, the Kano State Hisbah Board wrote to Cool FM, a radio station, warning it to desist from embarking on a proposed “Black Friday” sale, given that the majority of Kano state residents are muslims who consider Fridays as a holy day, and that it is a gross disrespect to the religion to tag their day of worship as “Black”.

A few weeks ago, the Kano State hisbah board also conducted a door-to-door search of “sinners” in the state, and the board has now placed a ban on things like “stylish haircuts”, sagging of trousers, playing music at events by disk jockeys (DJs), and seizing tricycles adorned with images that are deemed un-Islamic.

Two women are also banned from sitting on the same motorcycle.

The Nigerian Constitution

Section 10 of Nigeria’s constitution states that the government of the federation or of any state must not adopt any religion as state religion.

Section 38 of the constitution also guarantees a Nigerian’s freedom of religion, including the fact that a person can change their religion at any time, and a person is entitled to engage in their religion both publicly and privately, anywhere in Nigeria.

However, since 1999, 12 states in Nigeria have instituted the Shari’ah, or Islamic law, as the main body of their civil and criminal laws.

It remains to be seen how Nigeria balances non-religious and religious laws in different states of the country.

We hope you’ve learned a thing or two about how to unfuck yourself when the Nigerian government moves mad. Check back every weekday for more Zikoko Citizen explainers.

Zikoko Donation Banner

Help Zikoko keep making the content you love

More than ever, people are turning to Zikoko for stories that matter and content they love. But still, we, like many media organisations, are feeling the financial heat of these times. If you find us valuable, please make a contribution to help keep Zikoko zikoko-ing.

Thank you for your support.

We are also cool with Crypto.

Donation Close
Zikoko Logo

Complete Your Commitment

Donation confirm

Your Contribution is confirmed! Amount

Doyin Olagunju

Join The Conversation

Bring a friend.

You'll like this

October 20, 2020

If the president is not moving fast with police reforms, we can submit a petition to the National Assembly. 24-hour Curfew Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has imposed a 24-hour curfew on all parts of Lagos State as from 4 pm, 20th October 2020. He also added that only essential service providers and first responders “must be […]

October 14, 2020

We found love in a hopeless place – Rihanna. Nigerian youths have been protesting peacefully since Friday. Their major demands are that the government must end the rogue SARS unit responsible for extortion and theft. With demands largely unmet, the mood of these protests ranges from anger to frustration to even hope. However, there’s now…love […]

August 26, 2021

Citizen is a column that explains how the government’s policies fucks citizens and how we can unfuck ourselves. So you’ve probably seen members of the Nigerian Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in action. Usually sporting their white and green uniforms, they are the independent union behind the drivers of commercial buses, tricycles and motorcycles — […]


Now on Zikoko

Recommended Quizzes

September 1, 2021

August is over, and here are some of our best quizzes from August. Enjoy: 1. QUIZ: Only Ajebutters Can Get 10/21 On This Quiz Some people like to form ajepako when they’re really ajebutter. Are you one of them? Let’s find out. 2. QUIZ: Sorry, If You’re Under 25 There’s No Way You Can Pass […]

how tall are you
March 11, 2020

Did your parents give you enough beans when you were growing up? If they did, then you’re probably around 6’0″ and above. Either way, we created a quiz that can guess your current height (pretty accurately, if we do say so ourselves). Take to see if we nailed it:

April 14, 2020

Every friend group consists of very different and specific characters — from the parent to the fun one — and it can be a little tough figuring out where you fall. So, we’ve created a quiz that lets you know exactly what kind of friend you are. Take to find out:

November 12, 2019

Are you a single pringle, stuck in a complicated situationship or happily married to the love of your life? This quiz is here to guess your current relationship status, and as you know, Zikoko quizzes are incredibly accurate (don’t quote us). So, give a shot:

how much of an ajebutter
February 12, 2020

Are you an ajebutter or not? Well, if you’ve gone through life blissfully unaware of its harshness, then you probably are. Now, we want to know just how high you rank on that ajebutter scale, using your food preferences as a (very accurate) measure. Take to find out:

November 30, 2019

With No Nut November FINALLY coming to an end, we’ve decided to mark the torturous month with some more horny content. After quizzes that guessed how many people you’ve slept with, how good you are in bed and who you’ll sleep with next, this one will guess when next you’ll get lucky. Take it to […]

More from Citizen

open grazing
September 16, 2021

In Nigeria, up to 2,000 people die every year due to deadly clashes between farmers and cattle herders over rights to openly and freely graze, and the clashes made about 62,000 people homeless between 2015 and 2017.

In reaction, southern states in Nigeria are passing anti-open grazing laws. But what do they mean?

Rivers VAT
September 14, 2021

Rivers State generated ₦15 billion from VAT in June 2021, but only got ₦4.7 billion, whereas Kano State generated ₦2.8 billion naira from VAT in June 2021 and got the same ₦2.8 billion naira it made.

This is allyou need to know about the VAT crises:

Nigeria Doctors
September 2, 2021

If you live in Nigeria then you have to be careful because three things can strike at any time — thunder, “ASUU” or doctors. Presently, all three of them are in action: It’s the rainy season in Nigeria so of course thunder is present, lecturers under the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) are already […]

August 27, 2021

On August 14, 2021, unknown armed individuals attacked a convoy of five buses and killed at least 22 travellers along Rukuba Road in Jos North Local Government. According to multiple reports, the victims were returning to Ondo State after attending an Islamic festival in Bauchi state. Reports also say that another 23 people were injured, […]


Trending Videos

Zikoko Originals

December 14, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
November 2, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
October 26, 2020
A collection of videos documenting some of the events of the EndSARS protests.
June 22, 2020
'The Couch' is a Zikoko series featuring real life stories from anonymous people.
June 22, 2020
Hacked is an interesting new series by Zikoko made up of fictional but hilarious chat conversations.
June 4, 2020
What happens when a group of chatty young Nigerians talk about things they're passionate about? You get Nigerians talk. A show that discusses very familiar struggles for the average Nigerian. From relationship deal breakers to sex education with Nigerian parents to leaving Nigeria, be prepared for a ride.
June 2, 2020
Quickie is a video series where everyone featured gets only one minute to rant, review or do absolutely anything.
May 14, 2020
Isolation Diary is a Zikoko series that showcases what isolation is like for one young Nigerian working from home due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 12, 2020
Life is already hard. Deciding where to eat and get the best lifestyle experiences, isn't something you should stress about. Let VRSUS do that for you.

Z! Stacks

Here's a rabbit hole of stories to lose yourself in:

Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.